Best known for his “galloping” playing style and often considered among the best and most influential heavy metal bass players, the occasional keyboard player, backing vocalist and primary songwriter of the splendidly noisy British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, Steve Harris was born on this day 12th March in 1956. He is the only member of Iron Maiden to have remained in the band since their inception and, along with guitarist Dave Murray, to have appeared on all of their albums.
Originally He aspired to be a professional footballer, but gained an interest in rock music in his early teens, following which he participated in two small pub bands, Gypsy’s Kiss and Smiler, before forming Iron Maiden on Christmas Day 1975. Before Iron Maiden signed their contract with EMI in 1979, Harris worked as an architectural draughtsman in the East End of London until he was made redundant, at which point he undertook a job as a street sweeper. In addition to his role as the band’s bass player and backing vocalist, Harris has undertaken many other roles for the group, such as producing and co-producing their albums, directing and editing their live videos and performing studio keyboards.
Initially Harris wanted to play drums, but did not have enough space for a drum kit in his house and so decided the learn to play Bass instead, Just 10 months after he bought his first bass, Harris joined a band, initially known as Influence and later Gypsy’s Kiss, but After a short number of gigs the band split up and Harris auditioned for a band called Smiler in February 1974. In this outfit, Harris began writing his own songs and worked with future Iron Maiden members Dennis Wilcock and Doug Sampson, but left the band after they refused to play his material, claiming it was too complicated.
Upon leaving Smiler, Harris went on to create Iron Maiden on Christmas Day 1975, with the band’s name being inspired by the film The Man in the Iron Mask. Since their inception, Harris has been the band’s principal composer and lyricist. His song writing typically showcases his trademark galloping bass patterns and progressive rock-influenced songs often including several time changes. Recently, Harris’ songs have become more progressive, and guitarist Adrian Smith has commented that Harris now prefers contributing “lyrics and melodies and arranging” to other member’s songs over writing alone. Harris frequently writes lyrics about mythology, history or topics inspired from books and films, for which Iron Maiden has become notable in sharp contrast to most other rock bands where the themes are typically sex, drugs and rebellion.
Harris also began contributing keyboards to Iron Maiden’s studio albums from Virtual XI onwards, and played an increasing role in mixing the band’s albums and produced most of their 1990’s output. He also directs and edits many of the band’s live videos, including Maiden England in 1989, Harris also edited the Rock in Rio DVD as he was unsatisfied with the results produced by the band’s hired production crew. Harris was influenced by the progressive rock bands of the 70’s, as well as early hard rock bands. His influences include Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, early Genesis, Jethro Tull, Led Zeppelin,Pink Floyd, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Wishbone Ash, and Yes. Speaking about the early Iron Maiden sound, Steve Harris described the band as utilising twin-guitar harmonies inspired by Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy, complex time and mood changes from Genesis and Jethro Tull, and the dark melodic elements of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin.